Security software firm latest US company to be banned by govt
Symantec Corp, a United States security software company, was added to the latest do-not-use list by the Chinese government because of product vulnerabilities that may lead to information leakage.
Analysts argued China may find it difficult to replace Symantec's products because of a perceived technology gap.
An internal document posted online showed the Ministry of Public Security had ordered its branches nationwide to delete Symantec's data loss prevention products because the products' loopholes could pose information risks.
Chinese news site sohu.com said the public security bureau also banned the California-based company's DLP products in future government procurement projects.
Symantec dismissed the claims, saying its products do not have loopholes.
"We are investigating the report and talking with the government," said a company statement sent to China Daily on Thursday evening.
"Symantec has a loophole detection team to ensure product safety," it said.
Although the government document was not confirmed as authentic, it is clear China is entering an era when it will favor more homegrown information technology products and services.
Wang Pei, research manager at IDC China's enterprise system and software research group, said Symantec's shoes will be hard for Chinese firms to fill.
"In the DLP market, Symantec is a solid No 1 with big technology advantages," said Wang, adding that the company's software can actively detect external threats while Chinese companies are still working on encryption methods, a passive protection technology.
The technology gap between US security companies and their Chinese counterparts is about three years in the DLP sector, Wang said.
Since Symantec entered China in 1998, the company has forged a deep partnership with Chinese IT manufacturers, including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Lenovo Group Ltd. Earlier this year, Symantec united with Lenovo in developing security services for the Chinese company's server products.
Working with local hardware makers helped it to secure business in China, analysts said.
Symantec leads the Chinese enterprise security market with an approximately one-fourth share, according to IDC. Beijing Rising Information Technology Co Ltd, the largest local security provider, has roughly 8 percent of the market.
The recent development will hurt Symantec's China business in the long term as continuous government support gradually offsets overseas companies' technology advantage, sources said.
"The government's move of ousting overseas software will help local companies to gain market share," said Zhang Yumu, vice-president of Rising. In mid-May, China announced it was reviewing foreign-made IT products because of cybersecurity concerns.
According to IDC data, the Chinese IT security market was worth $1.89 billion in 2013, a 13.6 percent year-on-year increase.
(China Daily07/04/2014 page16)